Art, Guns and Fudge

African Diorama. Trip Advisor photo.

Growing up with folks who hunt and fish, I should have understood the excitement when Cabela’s Outfitters announced the opening of their store in the mountains of Hamburg, Pa. in 2003.

I did not.

I also didn’t understand why the Nevada artist Paul Manktelow lived at our hotel for almost 3 months while hand-painting the murals at the 250,000 square ft. store.deer

When I made Cabela’s part of my Wednesday walking routine, I understood.

It has been called a “High Temple of Taxidermy”, proudly displaying trophies from local and internationalย  hunters.

As one who always espoused the “Run, Bambi, Run” school of thought, I was a bit freaked out at first, especially walking through the Deer Country exhibit. These beautiful animals roam the woods very near my home.

cra-architectsBut the artistry is amazing, particularly the Manktelow wall murals.

The African diorama shown goes well into the 3-story ceiling, almost too massive to photograph.

As with the polar exhibit, animals are featured in lifelike poses.

The store also features a 55,000 gallon walk-through aquarium with local aquatic life, an interactive shooting gallery, a gun library with antique firearms, a cafeteria that serves game meat entrees, extensive camping gear, clothing, shoes, and a favorite for me..the homemade fudge shop.

The longest lines are, no doubt, for the sale of guns and ammunition. I walk through that area, and don’t make much eye contact. Not a fan.

As a tourist attraction, it has drawn restaurants, hotels, hardware stores, Walmart, etc. to a mostly rural community; an economic boom for this area just off a major interstate highway.

For me, it is just a fascinating walk.

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61 Responses to Art, Guns and Fudge

  1. Jim says:

    the gummy like the Cabelas fish aquarium.

  2. Should I be in that neck of the woods, I will have to check this place out.

  3. kirkhsmith says:

    I felt the same at the giant Bass Pro Shop in the downtown Memphis pyramid building.

  4. very creative Van. I remember driving to Kalispell Montana and walking into a Walmart there. It was so foreign for me to see rifles and ammunition for sale at a Walmart. So I stood there, mouth open, eyes big and a man approached and asked me if I would like to take a closer look at any of the firearms. I mumbled something about being Canadian and he said, “Never mind then,” and walked away haha. โค
    Diana xo

  5. Val Boyko says:

    I’m with you Van! I went there on a date a few years back. I was naive and had no idea what Cabelas was. It freaked me out … as did the guy ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  6. Having been to our own Cabela’s when it opened a few years back, looking at it then, it was just a draw for people. At that time I did not look at it like art. Thanks for giving me a new viewpoint!

  7. Wow! I knew they were a big draw, but didn’t realize that big. I live in a rural area of W. WA off the freeway that could use an economic boost. There was a councilman that rallied for a Cablea’s here several years back, but it went up the road fifty miles. Too bad. And yeah, I get the culture shock, being a native of the Northeast and living in the wild west for the last 38 years. Yee Haw.

  8. Elyse says:

    I’ve never actually been inside a Cabella’s. I did once get stuck in the parking lot. I wonder if they made a mural of me!

  9. It is beautiful but also sad, Van. I think it needs a half dozen taxidermied hunters in life like poses to make it just perfect. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Bun Karyudo says:

    D. Wallace Peach’s comment made me smile. It’s clear from the photographs that it’s all very impressively put together, but I must admit it makes me rather uncomfortable. I keep thinking of Bambi’s mother and feeling sad.

    • That “Deer Country” exhibit is huge, and a bit hard to take, Bun. ๐ŸฆŒ I get it. The hunters are credited on a plaque by each, but many were taken illegally, seized by officials, stuffed.

      • UGH! It’s amazing how much poaching goes on in the woods and how much trophy hunting can change the demographics of herds, taking the biggest, strongest animals and weakening the gene pool. Yes, it’s sad.

  11. Great perspective Van, I like your view.

  12. Your sentiments are fine by me

  13. J.D. Riso says:

    The taxidermy is no doubt impressive. I come from a family of hunters and fishers and used to fish when I was a kid. My family does it for food and I totally understand. The stuffed big game makes me sick. I just can’t understand what makes a person want to kill an animal simply for fun. I Don’t mean to be a stick in the mud, Van. Sorry.

    • No apologies needed, Julie. The elephant here was taken down by one of the Cabela family. I don’t know what they have filled all the other stores with…more than a little creepy, for sure.

  14. lbeth1950 says:

    I have a hard time enjoying taxidermy. One time I sarcastically told my husband I wanted a pistol. I was appalled when he gave me one about three evenings later when I got in from work. All I had to say was “Is it loaded?” Fortunately, it wasn’t. When I told him I didn’t want it, he said “I’ll keep it, then.” You know he knew I didn’t want a pistol!

    • Oh, no. A good reason for him to self-gift ? I don’t do well with guns. We used to camp with a family that took one along to the wilderness. It made me uncomfortable when I found out.

  15. Wow that is truly fascinating!

  16. Sadly, we ‘image’ we have ‘power’ over Earth and her occupants.
    A time will come when this illusion will become desperately clear.

  17. Steph McCoy says:

    The art is amazing but I have a hard time imagining myself walking through the life sized exhibit. On a side note, out of curiosity I had to google Hamburg, I’m from Pittsburgh.

  18. polymath0 says:

    This reminds me of a medical call I went on (I’m an EMT). I don’t even remember my patient, but I remember his house. You can’t forget it, because the moment you enter the house you are greeted by a zebra with a lion attached to its hind end, taking a bite, while another lion stands nearby watching. The entire house was ornamented with real stuffed animals from Africa, including a full set of elephant tusks. I had been on a true safari in the Masai Mara, and I believe the diversity of animals in this small house exceeded what I saw on my trip.

    The scene horrified me, to be honest. I’ve never minded hunting, as I find it the most humane way to obtain meat as food. This seemed somewhat grotesque, though. Yet I did find myself fascinated with the scene. I admit that the ability to walk through a safari on pause gave light to a curiosity. It reminded me of being a child wanting to know what a naked person looked like.

  19. I like Cabelas… and guns. So I approve! I bet it is a fun walk to take through that collection!

  20. I have had to look Cabelas up on line Van.. Being from over the Pond here in the UK.. LOL now I understand.. And as you can imagine I am not into Hunting.. But so understand the need to put meat on the table if hunting is done for food..
    Coming from a village where my Dad would trap rabbit as rabbit would be the only meat we could we eat was what Dad caught when I was growing up as a child.. And we had many a Pheasant or game bird like partridge which the gundogs from the local game keepers brought which were too damaged for sale.. ๐Ÿ™‚ Its a wonder we didn’t have lead poisoning lol.. As we would spit out the lead shot on our plates that had got missed. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good memories.. most of them.. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have a wonderful Christmas Van, And sending lots of Love and Peace to keep you company in the oncoming year..
    Hugs and Blessings
    Sue โค โค xxx

    • I’m not certain that I’ve ever tasted rabbit, Sue, with or without lead. That’s quite a memory. I always imagined those game birds tasted like chicken ? Have a wonderful holiday. ๐Ÿ’› ๐Ÿ’š ๐Ÿ’™ ๐Ÿ’œ

      • Thank you Van.. The rabbit is a taste that is distinctive, One I wouldn’t eat now.. or the game birds.. Which are darker meat and stronger in taste than chicken or turkey.. And yest our out-house was never without a rabbit hung on the back of the door..

        Enjoy a fabulous Christmas also.. LOVE Sue xx

  21. joey says:

    Ooh, fudge! Glad you enjoy your walks there ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for reminding me of the Bass Pro Shop in Georgia. We have Cabela’s here, but I’ve never been.

  22. This sounds like quite a place. Merry Christmas, Van! ๐Ÿ˜€

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